It's What You do With Political Victory That Counts

Does it matter which political party controls Congress come 2015?

Turn on any news program covering the mid-term election and you'll get a steady stream of "horse-race" reports: which candidates are up, which are down, how many seats are leaning Democrat or now safely in the hands of the GOP. Pollster after pollster will eagerly tell you how many Senate seats each party will end up with — then revise those numbers day after day — right up until the polls close on Nov. 4.

Granted, the non-stop prognosticating makes for good graphics on TV – maps lighting up blue and red, Republican strategist Karl Rove's white board showing numbers and percentages scribbled across it. But how often have you heard a discussion as to what difference it will actually make if the GOP wins control of the Senate or, for that matter, if the Democrats manage to hold on to it?

It's a question Republicans should be prepared to answer if they do win in November -- especially if they hope to be victorious again in 2016.

Polls show voters are no more enamored with the Republican brand than the Democrat one. The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey shows only 46% of likely voters prefer a GOP-held Congress, with 44% preferring a Democratic-controlled one.

Rather than lay out a particular vision of how life in America will be better if voters put its candidates in office, the GOP seems more to be counting on the fact that voters are unhappy with President Obama. Only 42% of respondents in the latest NBC/WSJ survey say they approved of the job he is doing.

And that is why many Democrats, including those running for office this year, must have shaken their heads when the president recently went out of his way to say that, while he is not on the ballot, his policies are. To many voters, Obama and his policies are one in the same, and the GOP has been bending every effort to try to nationalize the election and make it a referendum on Obama.

But if you take Obama out of the equation, what's left?

On the campaign trail, many a Republican candidate has railed against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. But will a GOP controlled Congress repeal it? If not, what would they do about it?

Many candidates have spoken with great passion about the fact our southern border is not secure and that Obama has gone around Congress to delay deportations for millions here illegally. Will a GOP controlled Congress block the president on such moves?

For years, Republicans in Congress have pushed for development of the Keystone XL pipeline that they say will produce cheaper energy and more jobs for Americans. Will a GOP Congress pass the measure and put it on the president's desk?

In politics, winning an election is simply step one. It's what you do with that victory that truly matters.

 - Genevieve Wood is the senior contributor to The Daily Signal at the Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Genevieve Wood Senior Fellow in Communications and Senior Contributor, The Daily Signal
Strategic Communications

Originally appeared in USA Today